The North East is a hotbed of talent and it’s no wonder that a band from the small hilly town of Jowai in Meghalaya has bagged this year’s Mahindra Blues Band Hunt, cutting across several blues bands across the country and claiming a chance to play at the Mahindra Blues Festival this year.
Quiet Storm was formed in 2018, when Starly saw the unique talent of his son, guitarist Ian and nephews Dami (guitars) and Sam. Fuelled by the mutual interest in Blues, the three began to work out.
They roped in Sam to pool his talent as a drummer and soon the four began to work out on original materials in Starly's Jam room. It became clear right away that they had something worthwhile after these first few songs.
Starly Chullai, 40, has been a guitarist and vocalist for over 20 years and has been an integral part of a plethora of bands as a session guitarist. As a family band, Starly is in control, but tries to avoid putting the pressure on the boys who are almost half his age.
“Do what you love and love what you do,” is how Starly puts it to them, “Work hard, have patience, be truthful, maintain discipline, because music teaches everyone how to maintain good attitude.”
Ian and Dami first began playing music in church, when in 2017 Starly decided it was time to break away and form a band and see a future in the music they were making. Ian has a lot to thank his father for, not just for being a role model, but as someone who has nurtured him from childhood. “I do look up to him as my role model in molding my career, because he’s the one who introduced me to play the blues and I've seen he's a hardworking man.
He taught me how to play the guitar and he's the only person that I can rely on,” says Ian. While Ian and Dami are still students. Starly and Sam are self-employed. The magic of the quartet comes even though the youngsters are new to the genre, but can adapt to it with practiced ease with all four contributing on vocals. “They just clicked and they knew the time was right to bring back the blues, RnB, Soul, Funk and Blues Rock alive,” says Starly.
While their songs kick up quite a storm of swing and blues, the band’s name stands for something they feel within themselves. “The name Quiet Storm stands for patience and doing what you love deep inside quietly, but with passion and dedication,” explains Starly.
While their musical influences are many, they shortlist Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Luther Allison among many others. Starly credits Rudy Wallang of blues band Soulmate for giving his band a reason and the passion to take up the blues seriously.
This determination, the urge to succeed and to make a mark, helped them overcome the obstacles to stand out and win the Blues Band hunt by outwitting Mumbai bands Bluestackface and the Varun Singh Trio.
“Music is not all about competition, it's only about love, being together and sharing the stage with these two bands like brothers. We all know that music is an endless process,” says Starly, adding that the quartet is all set to release some original material this year, starting with the song The Road I’m On, a song that talks about a person’s past life addictions and his tryst with change to be a better person.
As young boys playing the blues they feel fortunate to be embraced by the community. They also dabble in the sonic realms of RnB, Soul, Funk and Blues Rock. “Yes sometimes we do shift to pop for a change,” adds Sam.
With every song they sing, the family band admit that they are learning each day something new and trying to take a hold of it. “According to us, Blues is the roots of all types of music and every player can express his own feels with his own uniqueness,” states Starly who hopes at making his band a travelling band.
According to them, the Blues in India is expanding day by day. “People in Meghalaya love the Blues and the Blues in Meghalaya is growing too,” says Starly who was excited to be able to put off a knockout set at the blues festival.
And why not, for the band is on a mission to keep the Blues, not just alive, but thriving.